The College of St. Benedict and St. John's University Biology Department Herbarium, which is the largest private college herbarium in the state, houses more than 28,000 flowering and non-flowering plants (ferns and allies, bryophytes, fungi and algae) from all over the world. The specimens are used for teaching and research and include several special and unique collections. In addition, several collectors have deposited large numbers of specimens in the collections.
CSB/SJU Permanent Collections
Z.L. Chandonnet Collection
Flora Exsicccata Austro-Hungarica
Plant Pathogenic Fungi
Winter Skeleton Collection
Grasses of Minnesota
Wood and Fruit/Seed Collections
The permanent collection, which currently numbers about 28,000 specimens, represents the bulk of the Bailey Herbarium. These collections occupy 27 cabinets and are "typical" herbarium specimens. In other words, the plants have been pressed, dried, identified and mounted on standard-sized sheets (11.5 x 16) of archival paper. The specimens are filed phylogenetically according to the system of Cronquist (1993). This collection is essentially a reference library of plants and includes specimens from all over the world. If you accept published suggestions that each specimen is worth about $10.00 (based upon cost of supplies and labor costs in preparing and maintaining the specimens), then the CSB/SJU Herbarium permanent collection is worth more than one-quarter million dollars.
We have especially good collections of the Minnesota flora, especially from Stearns County. Other well-represented areas include the Great Plains, southeastern United States, and New Zealand.
Our permanent collections are used for both teaching and research. The collections were studied by the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources during the Stearns County Biological Survey. Recent students who have completed herbarium-based projects include Steven McGreevey ("History of the Prairie at St. John's") and James Wollack ("Investigation of Select Families in the Bailey Herbarium"). The collections are also used in teaching. For example, students in Plant Taxonomy (Biol 308) compare the specimens that they have collected to those in the herbarium to determine if they have identified them correctly.
Some individuals who have deposited large collections in the herbarium include:
Fr. James Hansen, OSB (St. John's Abbey) - Fr. James was the first large-scale collector at St. John's. He made extensive collections of plants, lichens, mosses and fungi, from the Collegeville area. His work serves as the basis for the original St. John's Herbarium. (Left)
Stephen Saupe, Ph.D. (CSB/SJU Biology Department) - deposited a variety of collections including ca. vascular 200 plants from New Zealand, fungi, lichens, and vascular plants from central Minnesota. (Right)
Sister Remberta Westkaemper, OSB (St. Benedict's Monastery) - made an exhaustive collection of primarily vascular plants from Stearns County (MN). This collection served as the basis for the original St. Benedict's Herbarium. (Left)
Nick Zaczkowski, Ph.D. (CSB/SJU Biology Department) - conducted extensive surveys of plants from the Great Plains (especially North Dakota) and central Minnesota. Dr. Zaczkowski deposited numerous specimens in the Herbarium during his association as staff and Curator. (Right)
This collection includes eight herbarium cases of dried specimens that are used strictly for teaching. These specimens are either duplicates of permanent collections or are unsuitable (i.e., lack of sufficient collection) to include in the permanent collections. Many of these plants have accumulated from student collections made during Plant Taxonomy classes and provide study materials for future classes. The teaching collection is arranged alphabetically by family. This collection also includes a small collection of frozen specimens that are collected during the flowering season and placed in a deep freeze until needed. Because this technique preserves the structure and color of the flower much better than drying, it is ideal for teaching purposes.
The herbarium has a collection of more than 500 specimens that have been laminated. These specimens are used primarily for teaching because the lamination process makes them more durable than a regular herbarium specimen and hence can survive the relatively rough treatment they receive in the classroom. The specimens have been laminated by one of two methods: (1) Contac© Paper - in this method the specimen is simply covered with clear Contac© Paper. In a typical mount, a full-sized herbarium specimen is placed on a cardboard drier and this unit is covered. The cardboard backing strengthens the specimen and minimizes damage; or (2) Machine Laminator - this technique uses a commercial laminator to attach the specimen to a sheet of tag board. The advantage of this technique is that the entire unit is laminated, not just the front and sides as is done with Contac© Paper. Also, the machine laminated specimens are much more attractive and easier to study because the plastic is more clear and adheres more tightly to the specimen. Except when a specimen is needed quickly, all of our specimens in this collection are now laminated by machine. Each specimen costs approximately $0.80.
This collection consists of about 6000 specimens from various parts of the world including the U.S., France, Canada, Puerto Rico, Switzerland and Algiers. Many of the specimens date to 1888. According to a document written by Sister Juliana, O.S.B., dated April 13, 1967, "this collection was obtained by CSB before 1917 . . . The original owner, Reverend Z.L. Chandonnet, indicated in his will that his Herbarium collection . . . was to be sold to a small college where it would be kept intact. Our college [CSB], he stated, was to have first chance to buy it . . . Father Chandonnet, a native of Minnesota, was forced by tuberculosis to spend a great deal of time out of doors. He started collecting plants and flowers as a hobby. His hobby lead him to become one of the worlds' greatest botanists, highly honored and respected by his colleagues." Chandonnet obtained many of the specimens in the collection by trading with other botanists including such famous individuals as Charles Deam (Flora of Indiana) and Charles K. Dodge. In accordance with the request in his will, the CSB/SJU Herbarium has kept this collection intact - the Chandonnet collections are placed in separate folders designated by a red dot.
On November 9, 1926, for $2.12 in postage, Father James Hansen, who was curator of the St. John's Herbarium, received in the mail 10 boxes containing 2000 plant specimens from the Abbey of Seitenstetten in Austria. This collection was part of the Flora Exsiccata Austro-Hungarica.
As background, an "exsiccata" is a collection prepared by professional botanists to document the diversity of plants from a particular region of the world. The collectors would gather a large number, say 100, of each type of plant and then divide them into 100 separate collections that were then sold or traded to other institutions. Although exsiccata collections are no longer prepared, these once popular collections were sought by herbaria to improve their holdings.
The Flora Exsiccata Austro-Hungarica was commissioned by the Imperial Academy of Sciences. Dr. Anton von Kerner, Professor and Director the of Botanical Museum of the University of Vienna, is a famous botanist who was charged with the task of preparing the collection. He gathered a staff of 80 specialists and collectors who began work in 1881. At the time of Dr. Kerner's death in 1898, a total of 2,800 numbers had been issued. Work on the collection continued under the supervision of Dr. Karl Fritsch until he moved to Gras in 1902. He was succeeded by Dr. Richard von Wettstein, Director of the Imperial Botanical Garden of the University of Vienna and was assisted by Dr. Handl-Mazzetie and I. Doerfler. A total of 4000 numbers were issued for the complete Flora Exsiccata Austro-Hungarica.
Each botanist who participated in the Exsiccata received a set of plants as partial restitution for their services. The Abbey at Seitenstetten owned two sets of the Exsiccata because Fr. Pius Stasser, O.S.B. and Fr. Bernard Wagner O.S.B., both who taught at the highly acclaimed high school of the abbey, participated in the project. Sadly, since Fr. Bernard died after a long illness in 1894 before the collection was completed, he received only half (2000 specimens) of the 4000 numbers of the complete Exsiccata. It is this set of plants that the Abbot of the Seitenstetten Abbey, Dr. Theodore Springer O.S.B., offered for sale to Abbot Alcuin at St. John's in February 1926. Upon advice from Fr. James that "the collection is of the highest authority and correspondingly valuable," St. John's sent Abbot Theodore a draft for $100 in March 1926. This was a fabulous bargain for such a scientifically-important and historically-priceless collection.
In a letter he wrote to Fr. James in July 1931, Fr. Pius stated that the collection "...is a valuable scientific monument to the former famous Austro-Hungarian monarchy" and that the collection is unique because it "can hardly be found in bookstores [and] because of the small number printed... for sale anywhere else. Only very few scientific institutes could be furnished with this study." The CSB/SJU Herbarium is indeed lucky to own this important collection.
The specimens from this collection are intermixed with other specimens in the permanent collections of the herbarium. However, they can be readily identified by their label and in addition, they are stored in white sheet of newsprint for added protection.
When a newly-discovered plant is named, a specimen is selected and deposited in a recognized herbarium. This specimen is called the "holotype", or simply "type", specimen. Type specimens are very important because they serve as a "reference" or "model" for the species and are the basis for future name changes. A duplicate of the holotype is termed an isotype. As an example, assume that you collect five specimens of a particular kind of plant and determine that it is a new species. You select one of the five to serve as the holotype. The other four specimens are isotypes. If the type specimen is lost or destroyed or otherwise absent, one of the isotypes can be appointed to replace it. The CSB/SJU Biology Department Herbarium owns one isotype, Mikania citriodora, that was collected in Brazil by WC Holmes. This specimen, a tropical vine in the sunflower family (Asteraceae), was received in 1996 in exchange for orchid samples we sent to the Baylor University Herbarium.
In June 1995 the Herbarium was given a large collection of fungi pathogenic to plants. This gift was received from the Herbarium of the Department of Plant Pathology, University of Wisconsin ‑ Madison. Dr. Craig Grau, Chair of the department, donated the collection in behalf of the department. The collection includes Riker mounts (encased in glass frames) and various packets of fungi, many dating to the first quarter of the 20th century.
Floral decorators have long appreciated the beauty of dried plants and their pods. Not only do the dried remnants of plants collected in the winter make particularly attractive displays, but these remnants can be used to identify the plant. An extensive collection of herbaceous plants collected in the winter is on display in the Bailey Herbarium. By studying this collection plants can be identified during any season, even during winter. There are over 100 specimens in this collection. Each is labeled with common name, scientific name and family. They are displayed on the cabinets in the Herbarium and the Botany Lab. Visitors are welcome to study this collection.
Grasses once dominated the landscape in central Minnesota stretching westward from St. John's through the Dakota's. Although a first glance suggests that there are only a few kinds of grasses, in reality more than 175 species of grasses grow in Minnesota. On the St. John's prairie alone, there are at least 25 different species. In recognition of this common and important group of plants we have prepared a display of grasses. This display documents the common prairie and weedy species of grass that live in our area and highlights the subtle beautiful of these important plants. Currently, the display includes about 50 different species.
The CSB/SJU Herbarium owns extensive collections of seeds, fruits and wood samples. These are currently being developed into useful collections.
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